Charles Moore's Mailbag

Liberals, Conservatives, and Mac Users

Charles Moore - 2008.01.28 - Tip Jar

Liberal vs. Conservative Puts the Focus on Differences

From Tom in response to Thinking Different about Liberal vs. Conservative Mac Users:

Hi Charles,

It seems that whenever people talk "politics", or more precisely political philosophies, the emphasis seems to be on totaling up the "differences", which may well help to explain the sorry state of political dialog in America today.

As I believe you were trying to point out in your article (and I hope this is correct, and that people see it), there is more overlap than absolute divide in the so-called liberal vs. conservative "debate", whatever the issue might be. I would gladly have William F. Buckley as an email correspondent (if he would have me as one), because I think a potential exchange of ideas between the great conservative and myself (a political liberal) might be interesting for me and maybe even for him.

Might we conclude the whole issue by saying that discerning liberals and discerning conservatives can and do find virtues in the Mac software and hardware, and prefer to go that way rather than brave the pitfalls of MS Vista? Perhaps the particular things liberals and conservatives appreciate about Apple are different . . . but perhaps not! Let's just say that all of us are onto something good with our Macs, for our own reasons, and intend to stay with them. In a small and minor way, this is much like what we may think about our form of government - nobody's come up with anything else as good (let alone better), so we're stickin' with it! Apple Computer is a great example of what can be achieved in a free society, and surely that is something everyone can appreciate.

Anyway, I applaud your take on the whole subject and would, if I knew you personally, count you as a friend and a civilized, intelligent ally or opponent (depending on the issue at hand) without drawing any battle lines because of what either of us consider our respective political philosophy.

Let none of us forget that Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, liberal and conservative, worked together with great respect and real friendship to bring the world through the greatest world war of the twentieth century with dedication and purpose.

We're better together than separate.

Thanks and God Bless,
Tom

Hi Tom,

Thanks for your thoughtful analysis of the article and topic.

Yes, I have found over the years of politically engaged discussion and debate that self-perceived conservatives (me, for example), and liberals (I have many liberal friends) very often agree on what's wrong, but differ on formulae for fixing it.

That's not to say that there are not some profound dissonances, and they can't be successfully wallpapered over, but good will and respect for the dialectical opponent, if not for his political ideas, will go a long way to helping discern and build on whatever common ground exists, and at minimum respectfully hearing out what the other guy has to say will enhance the climate of civility.

Charles

Clearing the Air on Liberal vs. Conservative Mac Users

From Bill in response to Thinking Different about Liberal vs. Conservative Mac Users:

Charles,

Great article! Thanks for doing this. Clears the air where it needed to be cleared.

Bill

Hi Bill,

Thanks! Glad you liked it.

Charles

Good Work on Liberal vs. Conservative Mac Users

From John:

Bravo, Charles! Well said. Keep up the good work.

Thanks John. :-)

Charles

Conservatives and Macs

From Charles W.:

Charles W.,

Go get 'em, Charlie!

Government of the duds, for the duds, and by the duds.

- Winston Churchill (on socialism)

Yet another Charles W.

(Mac user for almost twenty years, but a National Review subscriber since the seventies.)

Thanks CW.

Good W.S.C. quote. I've always been fond of this one:

"The inherent vice of capitalism is the uneven division of blessings, while the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal division of misery."

Charles

Politeness and Humility vs. Political Correctness

From John

Greetings Charles,

"I wonder if it ever occurs to these doofuses how superciliously insulting the implied caricature is?"

It doesn't. Conservatives have been making similar objections to yours for many years. The objections are mostly pointless. Politeness and humility are conservative traits; political correctness is the liberal's poor substitute.

Remember that this is a survey of purchasers, likely weighted to new purchases of new machines, and also a survey of self-image, not a scientific study of actual behaviors. In fairness to Mindset Media, one can reasonably claim that the caricature is not theirs, but that of respondents.

In light of the mean group behaviors of academics, generation Y, and the pre-internet media, I think the results are a no-brainer.

Best Regards,
John

Hi John,

Good points.

At the philosophical/worldview level, because of their relatively modest expectations regarding human potential, conservatives tend to be more charitable and forgiving with respect to their liberal dialectical opponents' motives than obtains in the reciprocal. Conservatives incline to regard liberals as well-meaning but mistaken or sentimentally unrealistic in their conclusions, rather than morally deficient, seeing them as misguided idealists rather then deliberate opponents of the common good.

Conversely, insinuations of bad faith, selfishness, and unworthy motives are much more commonly articulated by liberals in reference to conservatives than vice versa. Liberals are ideologically conditioned to regard non-liberals as morally challenged. Given their faith in the unlimited possibilities of man and nature, poverty or other sources of human dissatisfaction must surely be a result of selfish intentions or blindness to readily available solutions, so they beat the bushes for reasons why things are so frequently unpleasant and difficult, and seek to identify culprits to whom blame may be assigned. They believe peace, prosperity, justice, fairness, comfort, etc., are natural rights and that there is something wrong with the system when circumstances are otherwise.

William Godwin argued in his "Inquiry Concerning Political Justice" (1793), that moral improvement has no fixed limits and human nature is essentially "generous and magnanimous". Godwin believed that man are inherently capable of Justice and virtue.

Conservatives have a much more tragic perception of the human condition, noting that the reason for government is that human nature will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without restraint, and they give the peace and order of society a higher priority than even the relief of the miserable. Conservatives see human moral potential as seriously limited, subject to selfish and dangerous impulses that can be contained only by social restraint. The conservative project is therefore largely focused on reestablishing more limited definitions of terms like freedom and equality, endeavoring to explain explain how much discipline, denial of immediate gratification, and plain hard work it took to achieve the modest levels of civilization, comfort and prosperity that we have.

These dissonances of vision are demonstrated, for example, in respective attitudes toward "sincerity." For liberals, sincerity is a powerful ideal, and an almost unalloyed virtue. For conservatives, sincerity is a characteristic of minor moral importance, which in particular cases may be either virtue or vice. Conservatives readily concede the sincerity of liberals, but the latter are usually loath to reciprocate, and more likely to imply the existence of hidden agendas that must be exposed, or where conservative sincerity is grudgingly conceded, it will be qualified by references to blindness, prejudice, or narrow mindedness.

This essential conflict of visions goes a long way toward explaining the dialogue of the deaf between liberals and conservatives.

Charles

Loved the Politics Column Today

From John:

Very thoughtful and well-done. As a right-of-center Mac user, I too bristle at such absurd characterizations of conservatives as Neanderthals/fascists/etc.

Keep up the great work,

-John

Thank you John. Glad you enjoyed it.

Charles

Liberals, Conservatives, and the Green Debate

From Gerald Wilson:

Charles,

Look at this for another take on Lib/Con versus Mac/PC values: Your Views on the Green Debate (The Register)

regards,
Gerald

Hi Gerald,

Fascinating stats.

As I noted in the column, I'm something of a green conservative, although I do believe there is an awful lot of insupportable hype, and some of the purported "green" solutions like making ethanol from grain crops are making things substantially worse rather than better (e.g.: higher food prices causing major hardship for poorer people), increased fertilizer pollution and runoff poisoning watercourses, accelerated topsoil erosion (we are losing soil at ten time the rate it's being replaced), and net carbon release may actually be worse with ethanol when you count the emissions from agricultural machinery and transportation. Just one of many examples of unfortunate consequences when fixes are not well-thought out.

I also have to say that while I agree with the dictum "Even if you know the world ends tomorrow, you still plant a tree" (attributed to Martin Luther, probably erroneously), I do have to say I have a sense that things have gone too far for us to recover ecological sustainability.

I'm no climate change denier. It's increasingly obvious that Arctic ice is melting, so is snow in the European Alps, our summers are getting hotter and drier and weather events more violent and volatile year-round. What I'm skeptical about is realistic possibility of doing much about it given the dynamics in play, notably population growth ("explosion" is no longer a fashionable term, but still accurately descriptive), combined with consumer culture aspirations of the developing world and lack of serious public will to do anything really substantive about our prodigal consumption habits in the developed world.

As The Register's piece notes: "Some countries have been watching others build huge economies with fantastic living standards and, not surprisingly, they would like some of this for themselves. China, for example, has something like nine motor vehicles per thousand head of population while North America has 1148."

Auto sales in China are in double-digit growth, and they're building thousands of miles of superhighways, not to mention their industrial pollution.

In a nutshell, I think we're cooked. The remedies required to reverse global warming run contrary to human nature. A Pew Research study last year found the average North American's definition of "necessities" now include energy hogs like cars (91%), washers (90%), dryers (83%), home air conditioning (!) (83%), microwaves (68%), TV (64%), car air conditioning (59%), and home computers (51%). Hey, are you willing to forego or cut back radically on the use of those things, plus stuff like daily showers, and nonessential air travel? Be honest. I thought so.

"Binding carbon emissions targets" may sound noble and high-minded, but the above examples, and much more besides, is the practical reality of what it would take, presuming we can persuade the Chinese and Indians et al. to forego those conveniences and comforts too, now that they're beginning to be able to afford some of them. Good luck with that.

Charles

Kudos from the Left

From Andrew:

Great article Charles, and this coming from a left-leaning Atheist Democrat!

Cheers,
Andrew

Well, thank you kindly, Andrew. :-)

Charles

Rush Limbaugh Is a Demagogue

From Robert:

Hi Charles!

It is a common misconception that Rush Limbaugh is a conservative.

His listeners certainly are, but Rush himself is a demagogue.

Robert

Hi Robert,

Good point. ;-)

Charles

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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